tv Charlie Rose PBS August 1, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight we introduce you to a very interesting young man who creates businesses in silicon valley. it's a story worth telling. >> i very rarely-- in fact, never-- think of what is the terminal point, what does the exit strategy look like? i don't like doing that because you're inherently limiting the outcome. you're always assuming how it's going to end. ideally i love the notion of a forever company. >> rose: a forever company? >> yeah. there's not that many of those but the ones that exist are impressive. >> rose: max levchin for the hour, next.
>> rose: max levchin is here. he is a co-founder of paypal nld and one of the most creative entrepreneurs in all of silicon valley. in 1998 he started paypal, four years later the company was bought by ebay for $1.5 billion. levchin has since launched a variety of companies. he started the customer review site yelp of which he is chairman. in 2010 he sold his social media company slide to google for $182 million. his later project is the tech inge baitor h.v.f. i'm pleased to have him for the first time here but this is not the first time i have met him. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: yours is an interesting story so bear with me so i talk about biography for a second. born in the ukraine? >> correct. >> rose: your mother was a scientist, your father was a playwright. what a great combination! there's a culture there. there's both sides of your -- your brain have been full of
d.n.a. from both parents. >> i'd like to believe so. >> rose: and you had, in an interesting way, a series of doctors that predicted you would not live that much longer because of bronchitis. >> that is true. i'm amazed at your level of information but that is true. my parents were apparently told several times that this guy was not going to work out for them until about two and then at about two they said maybe five and after seven they stopped listening to doctors and said "he's going to be all right." >> rose: they stopped predicting your death. as mark twain said "reports of my death are vastly exaggerated. then your mother understood that chernobyl could be a danger and she said "we're leaving here." >> that was an amazing time. i have a vague recollection of it but the flashes of memory of being tossed on to a train head out of up to to get away from the first acid rain stuck with
me. >> rose: and how many people died at chernobyl? >> the actual chernobyl accident killed something like 23 people if i remember correctly. >> rose: the poisoning and radiation -- >> the radiation poisoning has -- we're still counting them up. the thyroid cancer rate in the area where i was born apparently in children, anyway, the children of the time is 20 times the norm. definitely not a great place. >> rose: then when you got ready to -- at the end of the train ride they said wait a second. you don't test well from the geiger counter or whatever they had. >> yeah, apparently i had a rose thorn in my shoe that was setting off a geiger counter of some sort and there was a brief moment where there were a bunch of local officials saying "do we cut off the leg?" and my mom said "maybe you should take off the shoe."
>> rose: (laughs) such a smart mom. they moved to chicago. >> that's right. in 1991 we were finally allowed out of the country and weeks before the country collapsed so i left with a red soviet passport and a few weeks later i had a passport to a country that didn't exist anymore. >> rose: and do you feel what in terms of where are where your soul is? is it american? is it russian? is it -- >> rose: >> i'd loaf to have a clever answer to this but i think now i primarily find myself as an american immigrant. i'm very clear about where i came from who i was, who i am. i'm very much an american. my formative years were spent here, i met most of the people who matter to me here, minus my family. most of my work has been done in this country but i know i wasn't
born here and i know that my development is shaped by the immigration experience, by the experience of growing up in a country that didn't have the kind of freedoms we have here. this sort of political and business freedom. >> rose: and what immigration has meant to america, i assume you're among those who say is a proud part of the development and evolution of this country and somethat that we essentially must make sure we cherish and preserve >> absolutely. i'm very fashion gnat about -- it's divisive issue, there's lots of facets i can't hope to understand but just the fundamental notion of the melting pot, bringing people in have the ambition and the drive too better themselves, better their fate, better their children's fate and pay back to the country that welcomed them is fundamental to who i am and it's critical america does not lose that. >> rose: and not only do well for themselves but for the country by creating jobs, inventing things and doing a whole range of other things.
>> i think that just cannot be understated. >> rose: so you made your way to the university of illinois at urbana, champagne. >> right. >> rose: were you there when andreessen was there? >> we overlapped by a couple years. >> rose: did you know him? >> i certainly knew of him very well. i think we overlap add couple "new york times" a hot dog place that he and i used to frequent. >> rose: (laughs) >> but he worked at the national center for computing applications and when the famous six left to start netscape, a bunch of us undergraduates were hired rapidly to replace the holes created and in that sense i literally followed in his footsteps and then after i graduated i followed them to palo alto. >> rose: it was mosaic was the first thing they did. >> exactly right. at that time -- >> it was an amazing place to be and i -- i don't like the idea of luck but just because i feel
like i should be shaping my own fate as much as possible but as far as having luck in my life other than being allowed to come to america, being on the university of illinois campus in 1993 through 1997 was just a dream come true for a computer scientist. it fundamentally reshaped me from somebody who thought of myself first and foremost as a scientist futuring a d.e.m.ic to someone who thought there's no better way to be than create businesses. be an entrepreneur. that's what it's about. >> rose: when did you get that? >> i can tell you the exact moment. i was sitting in a lab around midnight and this guy walked in, his name is scott banister, and his friend luke, all these guys are very early paypal mafia members and they walked in and said "you seem to be here all the time writing code into the wee hours of the night. why do you do this?" i said "i do it because it's fun i love building things." they said "you should come with us and we'll start a company and you can do things that matter."
i thought "what a foreign concept! why not? i'm going to be here anyway." and that was the pivoting moment. from that point on i never thought about becoming an academic. >> rose: so it wasn't just ideas for ideas sake it was ideas that can be implemented to make a difference and create something that has products and people and purpose. >> it went from building things for me to building things for others. >> rose: so you made your way to california. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and what brought you to california. >> probably the bester answer is "why didn't you make it to chra ca sooner?" >> rose: why didn't you make it to california sooner? >> so i'm an immigrant and i have a very immigrant family and they said "if you do not graduate college it will kill the family." >> rose: you better get that bachelor's degree. >> we had to haggle over the
p.h.d. or master's. >> rose: so it had to be a bachelor's? >> so i got my bachelor's in computer science and as soon as i could i packed up my belongings and left for california. but i got here primarily because as evidenced by andreessen and many people after him starting companies in silicon valley was the thing to do. late '90s, just the fabric of the time, the place, the idea being a computer scientist and not building things for passion sake but to make the world a better place. to bring -- we all used the internet well before the web became sort of public domain, public knowledge but as we saw things like yahoo! and netscape, it was just amazing and you had to be a part of it somehow and where do you go? i don't know silicon valley existed then it became the only place for me to be. >> rose: your story is
interesting because it's part of that fabric. whether it's an individual contribution you make. but you represent, i think, what it is that is the essence of there. young people who do understand -- who wantn't to work crazy hours who are always looking for the smartest person and the best idea and to who want to do things that change the way people behave. why what thigh buy, what they use, all of that. that's why i'm interested in biography. so you meet out there and you two, how did you -- you came together, you knew each other. >> much more pedestrian story. i was squatting at scott banister's apartment -- >> rose: who is scott banister? >> he's a brilliant, brilliant guy. he was the first board member of paypal, went on to start iron port require bid cisco for just under a billion dollars
he had everything, a very, very small apartment and a mattress and he didn't have air conditioning. so i spent time sneaking into free lectures at stanford. just to stay cool. summer of '89 8 was ridiculously hot. so i'd look up a seminar for this -- it was summer, so i would generally just chill and somebody said "there's this young brilliant hedge fund currency trader you should get to know him." he was, at the time, i guess well known for some clever ideas around currency trading and he ran a very small hedge fund and i knew his name when i showed up looking far place to cool off i saw peter teal giving a lecture on currency trading. well, i know -- practically know this guy, i should see him. so i went in, maybe nine other people or six other people in the room and i parked myself in a nap and i fed is it's boring i'll get to know these guys.
i said hi, we should have breakfast. so we had breakfast the next day and he said "what do you do?" i said "i start companies." and i showed up for a w a bagful of ideas and he said "i like that one." literally that one evolved into paypal. >> but it started -- there's more to this story. conformity was your company? >> so there was no company. we started together. he originally was going to back one of my crazier security schemes and -- computer security and he thought it was cool and difficult and my background was inn security so i had some advantage and as we got to know each other a little bit better
we hung out plenty and sort of liked each other plenty and fascination, their intellectual curiosities were similar and at some point i basically said "i think i'm going to try to talk this guy into being the c.e.o. of my company. and so i started it had slow campaign to talk him into becoming the c.e.o. of my company and as he -- he eventually pretty quickly agreed and as we sort of evolveed as business partners he started pushing for what's a bigger vision, what's a bigger business model, what's a more interesting thing to do and we involved from security for hand held devices do audio use for hand held devices to a wallet that ran on a palm pilot, a very defunct technology and ultimately became paypal. >> rose: but at one time very promising technology. >> oh, yeah. interestingly enough, these days anybody who has a smart phone will tell you that it's an indispensable technology.
at the time there were maybe a grand total of one million palm pilots in existence and people were looking between saying why do you want to have a brick in your pocket. >> i had one. >> i had many! >> rose: so then elon musk comes in and he has excel? >> x x.com. so he was building one of the very early online banks and we basically proceeded along parallel paths and then merged. >> rose: and paypal was, as i remember, went public pretty early 2002? >> we originally filed in late 2001, in september 11. >> rose: this is about the time -- go ahead. >> literally prevented us from going public. 2002 is when we went public. right around valentine's day. >> rose: who was there? everybody makes a whole lot about the paypal and a half yoo and there's a famous "fortune" magazine picture and there you are, some of you-- some didn't come for whatever reason. >> it's aing by the group so -- pewter, you, elon
>> jeremy. steve chen. and chet hurley, the three guys. >> rose: if you had to describe the one quality you all shared, what would it be? let's assume intelligence is given. >> um -- we all knew we wanted to start companies. we came to entrepreneurship from different parts in our lives but i think all of us were either starting this company and peter and elon and i were starting this company and everyone else knew that this was basically their last job. they were going to do their own thing next and this was training ground. the. >> rose: i'll just do this and then i'll do my own thing and i'll make money and do something else. >> i think that's what you think then but when you wake up after the pilot money part you kind of go "the only thing i want to
is more of this." >> rose: exactly! that's such an interesting process. paypal created you guys, sell it to ebay and it's a very successful acquisition for ebay and most of you left. there was like a, boom, explosion out of there. >> uh-huh. >> rose: was the drive at that time to create companies and make a lot of money? or simply create successful companies? the here is "i can do it." >> there's a lot of that. i think it is untrue to claim that we never counted any dollars. not at all. i think as a capitalist -- >> rose: it wasn't to go out -- well, maybe it was. tell me, you wanted to buy yachts and planes and 17 homes and fancy jewelry and clothes. >> no, i don't think any one of us ever measured our success in terms of the number yachts. i think it was all about making an impact and leveraging the
success into bigger better things. >> rose: so you sell paypal and you leave. this should be the best time of your life! >> it was the worst time of my life. >> rose: why? >> i had spent so much time being very stressed and working very hard that the vacuum of not having to work, not having the drive -- i was always overbooked there was 10 hours to do 20 hours worth of things. i would wake up and say "i have 12 hours and i can read some magazines." it was terrible. it was a very, very depressive time and my now wife basically kicked me out of the house and said "go start a company." >> rose: this is nellie saying "get the hell out of here! you can drive yourself crazy but you're not going to drive me crazy!" >> i think i was driving both of us pretty far up the wall. fortunately i got better. >> rose: so what did you do? you started an incubator?
>> yes, so in part driven by my wife's planning out that i'm much happier when i'm working, well, i don't know what i'm going to go on next. >> rose: and she is, too. >> she said "go rent an office and get out of here and think about what you really want to do. organize yourself around going to a place of work and think and invent, that's what you do best." and i did. but i'm better in a group of people than alone. so i set up this little office and we-- my friends and i-- would get together and brainstorm what could be and be as big and interesting as possible. from those brainstorms, that's when slide was founded that i ultimately ran and got acquired by google and yelp was created there. it's definitely -- it was a great time, very unstructured but it was a year of creativity and it was a -- >> when you build these companies are you always assuming you will sell them or is it going to be like facebook?
>> i very rarely-- in fact never-- think of what is the terminal point, what does the exit strategy look like? i don't like doing that because you're inherently limiting the outcome. you're always assuming how it's going to end. ideally i love the notion of a forever company. >> rose: a forever company? >> yeah. there's not that many of those but the ones that exist are pretty impressive. >> rose: you know, they always say some companies are better if the founder stays with it. it's good. steve jobs and apple, you think of larry and sergei at google, you think of mark at facebook. they add something and sometimes they need talent to come in to do certain kinds of things in terms of management. but in the end their presence makes a difference. >> i think so. i fundamentally agree with that. i think the -- this is a borrowed concept but there's a real notion of the king d.n.a.
the founder of the company makes sure the d.n.a. does not decay. >> rose: and that's it's always changing. you never rest on your laurels. do you know anybody who has been -- had all the qualities you have and everybody we might mention in this conversation but who has said "there's something else i want to do." now i know a couple of people who went into foundations, i can even think about bill, he spent a lot of time on his foundation. but to walk away from it it seems to me the majority impression i have is they're like you. >> i think -- my guess that what happens is that you find a passion for everyday and you wake up in the morning and you say "the reason i get out of bed, the reason i exist is for this." and for a lot of us, maybe for as long as we live, that passion
is fundamentally from the business we're building, the impact on the customers we ear creating. for some, like pierre, when it comes to a higher calling, i can leverage this success to make the world a better place. bill gates is another example. i think of someone who took a much longer time, he ran a company that's extraordinarily successful but ultimately walked away from it to cure the world-- literally. which is amazing. sy hope to do something like that one day. but i'm pretty business focused for now. >> rose: you don't even know when you might not be business focused. >> i do not know. >> there's nothing else that's a magnet for you at this point even though i'm sure you have philanthropic causes that you contribute to but nothing says get the hell out of dodge and go do something else. >> the finer point on it is that there are many interests i have that. so i used to be too young to care about health care and these days i care about health care a lot. and in many different ways, but the tool i know how to leverage
most and best to fix things, to make things -- to make the world a better place are through business. i don't know yet and i may never understand how the do this through charitable interests beyond donating -- doing things with my own hands and what i understand how the do really well. and i've learned how to do it through business and i'm excited to do that everyday. >> rose: among the paypal mafia there's peter. peter is often called the don of the mafia and you're often called the con singh lee areary of the mafia. >> i like that! >> rose: you've heard that before, too. >> i have. >> rose: how old are you now? >> i just turned 38. >> rose: 38. when you look at what you're going now called h.v.f.? >> rose: describe the title. >> i like -- so my background is in security which it seems that i delight in cryptic semimysterious names so i like
three-letter acronyms, n.s.a.'s current p.r. problem notwithstanding. h.v.f. stands for hard, valuable fun. those are the three necessary conditions for me to get out of bed and go to work. hard. it's no fun solving problems that are easy. somebody's already doing it. it's not defensible. it's not that exciting so to solve not a hard problem so it has to be difficult to do. hard. valueable? it better make the world a bert place. bang your head against the wall, you might break the wall or break the head, it's not helping anybody. valuable means impacting the world for the better. you have to be passionate about it. i've done a few things in my life that i felt deeply about and didn't care and some things that i didn't say t care that much and fun is the short hand for whatever hard problem i solve, i have to ultimately care about. so hard, valuable, fun. >> there's things you read about you don't sleep much at one time.
>> i don't sleep much. >> rose: is it -- what is it? three to five hours? >> i think i average four and a half these days. >> well, that's three to five. how many naps a day? >> um, i don't really take naps. >> rose: so three to five and that's it? >> yup. i can generally function pretty well. >> rose: on four and a half? >> every once in a while i hit a wall where i have to catch up. >> rose: can you really catch up in sleep? >> i think the science tells us you cannot but i keep on telling myself that. >> rose: i was going to correct you, too, being thaushd illusion. >> it's an illusion i keep telling myself about. >> rose: there's also this, we talk about what you're doing today and the technology, there is this peter is a well known libertarian. does he represent a significant part? because i was at a recent conversation and cheryl mentioned that idea of libertarians in silicon valley. is that -- does that represent the political feeling of a significant number of people, do you think, there? and if so, why?
>> i think the monoscher "libertarian" has been stretched that the point to cover a lot of different differing political views. i think a lot of people in silicon valley are independent thinkers and the idealistic -- >> rose: they want to be left alone the do their thing. >> they want to be allowed their own decision making. i don't mind taxes. in fact, i think taxation and redistribution of wealth is actually a good idea because we live in an organized society and we need to better those that are less fortunate and make sure the roads are relatively well functioning and we need to have law enforcement. >> rose: and national security. >> absolutely. so taxes pay for that. i have relatively low trust in some of my local politicians, although most recently perhaps to spend my taxes on things that really do matter. and so this lack of inherent trust of the local or broader political establishment is probably the most defining most
common feature of silicon valley quote/unquote libertarians. it's tricky to call people libertarianism because you quickly wind up in the sort of more controversial land of prop 8 proponents and people like that. >> rose: and use the reference dumb for all kinds of things. the >> and the last thing i possibly cowl -- the last category i would possibly be placed is n is anything conservative on the social side. all the social issues i'm as liberal as it gets. on the fiscal issues i would place myself conservative. and that's probably true of a lot of people in silicon valley. especially entrepreneur group. >> rose: you mentioned n.s.a.. is there a majority opinion in silicon valley on the part of people who know a lot about what's at the heart of n.s.a. in terms of the -- science enabled
them to do this about whether n.s.a.'s gone too far? >> so i have -- or an invasion of private any because privacy calls up all the time as you know, beyond n.s.a. >> i can't speak for silicon valley because i actually have a slightly different view of that specific issue largely having to do with my immigrant origins. i am probably uncharacteristically pro-national security agencies writ large and n.s.a.? particular despite the fact that they would not hire me at some point. i wanted to work for the n.s.a. and i was not a u.s. citizen and that ended right there. but i really value my privacy and i really value the government not knowing more than they absolutely must about me. but i also fundamentally believe that this country in particular so far has its citizenry's
interests in mind that i just fundamentally trust the national security establishment to care about the citizens. to spy on the things that need spying. national security agency is there to make sure we don't have another september 11. and i think that's probably -- it's a trade but it's a trade i would be willing to make. >> rose: a trade between security and liber any >> security and privacy. i think it's very important to understand that these people do the sort of thing that may seem unpleasant and intrusive and controversial but they're ultimately protecting us. >> rose: therefore in the interest of protection you do not think they have gone too far in the invasion of privacy based on what we know now and based on what we've learned from edward snowden and others?
>> to be completely honest, i haven't followed the exact details as carefully as i perhaps should to make that opinion. i'm speaking more about the broader sense of this trait trade-- privacy for security. i think national security is not to be trifled with. we've seen what happened on september 11 and i think people who forget that are fooling themselves. >> rose: and people in europe and many parts of europe have seen the savage consequences of it. >> exactly. i think any form of chest beating about that is at the very least forgetting our very recent past. >> rose: the other side of that have is because of technology today and the government -- technology acting alone, first of all, in terms of advertising commercials and all that as well as there's the government coming to technology companies and saying "we need to know what you know." >> i think that that is a separate issue and a very important one. i think what's critical is the
companies need to be transparent with their user base. users have to understand that the rules of the game are defined in a certain way. and i think companies not being able to disclose to their user base what the government gets to find out for them is an issue that's worth debating and worth highlighting but i think the government working with a private sector is a great thing. when we were working on security and anti-fraud measures at paypal we collaborated with every imaginable three and four-letter agency and those were some of the best, most productive relationships i've had as a business person because you see -- and it's also where i gained a lot of my respect and views on this matter. these people don't get paid a lot of money to make sure we don't get ripped off, make sure we don't get killed, make sure we don't get bombed. you have to appreciate that. their names don't get mentioned. they're everyday heroes and they don't think twice about doing it. so i think if the private sector
can help them, we should. >> in the area of technology and hacking, we assume the chinese are doing a lot of it and whether it's government sponsored or however is doing it there's also an asumings that we're doing something about it ourselves. now, it may be different and you can spell out the differences. my question is is anybody ahead of the game on that? is the aspect of always hackers one step beyond of how you can stop them? >> the thing about security is that offense and defense are not different-- at least in my view of tissue. there's always the -- everybody's a pretty self-similar systems. everybody's running more or less the same kind of technology. knowing what's vulnerable,
figuring out how to get into a system, how to turn off the power grid, how to spin the centrifuges, s as much offensive as it is defensive. and so if i have to place bets, i would say we as the united states is probably the strongest i certainly cannot speak -- privately and publicly working for the government and outside the government? >> yes. but i think specifically working for the u.s. government i think the u.s. offensive capabilities are excellent. >> rose: let me talk about two of your company which is i find fascinating. and one is affirm. tell me what that is. >> so slight departure from affirm but i'll get to in the a second. so right after i left google-- which i had acquired slide-- i sort of went back to this i don't want to have a miserable year. >> rose: i've done that. >> so i knew what to do so i set
up another one of these idea incubator or brain labs or whatever but gathered a bunch of friends and said "we're going to instrent biggest thing ever." and thanks to my intelligent wife i knew where to look. she very correctly pointed out: you love data, go do something with data. that's the thing you're passionate about. so i basically said well, i'm going to list the biggest problems in the world. the biggest things i know about or want to know about and see if i can solve those things in innovative ways through leveraging data. so consumer finance, i've done that. but it is definitely a problem if you look at credit, if you look at trustworthiness, if you look at banking, all these things are still running, system systems generally built in 1970s boy they could do a lot of data. having repeated that a few times of course i'm going do that. so a firm is a service and that
uses non-traditional data sources such as social data which is twitter, linked in, facebook, all these systems now. we live a world where everything is shareable, everything's being shared. that creates an amazingly detailed portrait of someone as they live their life online. i believe and now believe even more that by looking at the data with the users' permission you can assess their ability to be responsible financial -- to spend a financial tie to the economy better than what the fie scow score invented in the 1970s could do. so we look at non-traditional data sources and try to offer you what amounts to a spot loan at a checkout counter. instead of having to -- >> rose: i love this idea because i'll tell you why. >> so instead of having to type in a credit card number on your
mobile phone which basically results in transactions not being consummated we try to bring that transaction to the merchant that would otherwise lose it by looking at the user, letting them identify themselves using facebook or other sources or gmail and saying, you know what? given what we know about you in realtime right now we believe you're good for it, please promise to pay us back and we will guarantee this transaction. >> why that's great is that -- when i knew you were doing that, it resonated because how many times have i started a process of seeing -- started to buy it and it became complicated, i always blamed it on my own inadequate competence. and i would just give up. i'm a great -- i'm credit worthy. but i'll just give up because i say i don't have time to sit here and go through all the -- what i have to do. figure out what i'm doing wrong. and there's a lot of people-- which is your secret here-- that
do that and it's very valuable to companies not to lose those customers. >> with mobile commerce it has gone from annoying to the back of the merchant's mind to a real opportunity from-to-go from being profitable to not profitable. enough people say "p.s.a. typing autofill and browsers can help me out." but typing out an address, and a billing address and my credit card number which i don't remember. >> rose: it's in my wallet or back pocket >> i'll just put in the my wish list and get it-to-it later. and we don't. >> rose: and the secret is because of data available you can make a credit decision. >> a credit worthiness decision. >> rose: here's what i want you do is give me a short primer on everybody talks about big data. whether it's the harvard
business review or a popular magazine it's the era of big data. one is because of sensors we're going to be able to do a whole bunch of things companies and individuals, because of the availability of data and the capacity to analyze and dissect that data. so tell me what this revolution is about. >> so i think you have it right, i'm not sure i can add that much more to it. there's probably a couple more wrinkles so for a long time we didn't have the sensors, didn't have the ability to store this data --. >> rose: what do you mean by "sensors"? >> so i'll give you a practical example. so tour de france just ended and i'm an avid recreational cyclist and i don't dope but recreational cyclists will will measure up to nine variables in realtime as they ride their
bike. location, speed, heart rate, power exerted by the legs. 20 years ago you can look and say you're not working really hard. i can tell i'm working hard because i'm going up a mountain and sweating. today the data is recorded in realtime but you can say i'm going to compare this to my performance data, i can compare it to all the other athletes in my co-hert. i can compare this to people in the pro field, i can compare this to amateurs. so actionable data is the promise of big data. >> rose: actual data? >> being able to take data that you captured by yourself. your business process, your athletic performance, whatever, compared it known set of outcomes and forecast what your data means to you vis-a-vis known outcomes is kind of the big pattern. >> the comparison is -- this is
also the key to the genome incompetent revolution, to, to have a big enough sample that you can make the kind of accurate decisions >> cheap sensors that can be placed everywhere. emergence of pervasive broad band mobile internet so you can transmit the investigation some interesting revelations in processing of da data. to mine data. being able to build models, predictive analytics that allow you to say "let's compare this to what has come before and predict what will happen next." and action -- leveraging those outcomes into changing the behavior, changing your business processes, changing your training regiments. that's what the process looks like. it's promising. everything i've lived up to now has all about -- this data mining so i'm living in the age
that i'm supposed to live in. >> rose: me, too. what's extraordinary about it to me, too, is what you're saying in terms of understanding physical limits in terms of athletic performance specifically really being able to have a readout of everything so if you have a metric then you can in a sense enlarge the potential. you perceived limits versus ones you see on the screen. >> rose: and the building of information that tells you how to make sure that you put the right focus on the right skill. >> the other thing that's worth mention mentioning, problem, the notion of small change. so this supergranular data allows you to track very, very small changes and as warren buffett loves to point out people generally don't understand the notion of compound interest. people don't understanding the notion of compounding changes. few improve by 1% everyday -- if you improve by 1% everyday you
will grow amazingly be it financial investment or athletic performance or your business and it's hard to detect if you don't a longer view. if you cannot look back and say given my progress for the last x month, here's what's going on. i've been improving by 1%, you can tell how much of a difference that makes. if you look at your comparable cohort you can say here's what happens to those who improve by 1% every month. here's where they are. they become 30 times more whatever the measure of success looks to you that. 's very motivating.v:-be it an s person, whoever. that's what this is about. >> rose: let me turn to glow which i find exciting, too. it has to two do with childbirth and fertility. explain it. >> the same time as we were thinking up a firm we should have listed health care as one of these huge problems where data is scarce and all kinds of -- it's very easy to stick your finger at the cost of health care and health insurance and say "that's just broken, what
can we do here?" so we looked around for problems where we could obviously make a real impact with data. and infertility is a very, very costly problem. it impacts a lot more people than you might expect. only like one out of five to seven women at any given time self-reporting as having a hard time competing and trying to. and it's an information problem because if you're asked typically a very successful educated woman are you having a hard time conceiving, if they are trying to conceive with a partner the answer is more often yes with someone who's successful because women take longer to develop their careers. so as you age your fertility drops. just a reality of life. so at that time someone who is typically very successful has stopped at nothing. been well educated, well paid, nothing ever been a constrainted -- nothing ever been difficult for that person. they'll find themselves
completely helpless. there's not a lot of information available and the cost of fixing the problem in fertile city extraordinary high. north of $10,000 per cycle of i.v.f. and -- >> rose: in vitro fertilization. >> right. and we looked at this problem and said why don't people track their data more? there's all these amazing trackers available to athletes and we do this or athletes do this to win tour de france and be faster cyclist but nothing is as important as having offspring to procreate, to make sure that the species continue. and that data is so poorly tracked. literally, you're given a printout from a book published in -- some time phenomenon the '60s or '70s being told mark here when your period on. don't we have better sensors? we have smart phones in our pockets and so we built an app that allows women to track their ovulation statistics which we then -- and many, many, many of the data points from mood to sex
to b.m.i. to all these things that either are proven correlated or causal to infertility or fertility. or suspected so we build out the models what, in fact, predict. and we use the data both from the person's information for medical publications and from the proud that we gather day from to forecast fertility. because a precise forecasting -- perfect forecast of the ovulation window allows someone to optimize their behavior to conceive naturally and not go through the expensive cost of fertility, hopefully. >> so if you have something that you use glow, you can pinpoint more accurately than you have been able before as to when your most optimal time -- >> that's right. and we go as far as telling you, here's what we think the probability of conception is if you were too have sex with your partner. >> rose: so what data do you have on the successful no this?
>> we were launching this thing in seven days so it will go live but we've been running -- that's very kind. i'm now of an age where ten years ago they asked me about children, i now have two of my own which i do not have a hard time conceiving bier i realize that's one facet of life -- you only find out once you have them. so we had a 250-woman trial and i literally received an e-mail of a photograph of a pee stick with two lines on it which means pregnant. so we had our first -- and this would have been a great story but soon we had more. so we have first confirmed conceptions happening in the trial but we're going to -- >> rose: so after you roll it out suppose somebody is excited by that because it obviously causes great sense of pain if you very much want to have difficulty. >> so what would they do to access glow? >> so today's -- it will be
available in the app store -- >> rose: just go to buy your app. >> it's free. >> rose: it's all free? >> all free. it has one very cool optional feature call glow first which is a mutual help fund so i'm very fond of myself. it's a way to contribute $50 on a monthly basis for ten months. if you conceive naturally between the begin of your monthly cohort and the ten month you have donated this money to help other couples that are not as fortunate. if you're not successful in ten months we will help you, refer you to an infertility specialist or you can pick your own and whatever money is in the pool, all the contributions-- we divide it equally, taking nothing for ourselves-- among all the couples that are not fertile and pay that share -- that couple's share directly to their infertility specialist. basically helping defray some of the costs. and the larger this becomes, the more likely we are to be able to
cover close to 100% of the infertility treatment. which i think is kind of a first cut of -- a blueprint of what health care needs to look like. >> rose: i don't know that there's -- there may be no answer to this or an obvious answer to this. what has the app revolution brought? and is there that where it all is today in terms of -- >> i think the app revolution or the smart phone revolution fundamentally democrat tiesed computing and i think you can see from the famous statement of the overall market for computers as something like seven -- i think ken olson said it. it's since been -- >> rose: the diplomacy of -- >> i think that's since been handily destroyed by the p.c.
revolution and many other steps along the way and the internet put another dent into that notion. i think we're living in an extremely exciting era. more people have smart phones than clean water which is a problem for clean water but amazing for computing. but being able to access -- mobile computing is amazing because it's not just the computer on your desk, it's not just a thing that can help you compute numbers faster, it's a window into almost endless informational resources. you can look into the knowledge base of the world, both existing knowledge from google to all the other databases to social knowledge like facebook and core and all these other sites where you ask people to help you. the fact that you're not alone ever, that your computer becomes a human device, it was something that helms you find out information for you.
it's the ultimate sensor. you can talk to your phone literally but you can enter information for your phone. you can bring it into your cloud and leverage it massively to make your world your personal little world a better place. and so the app revolution is the user interface to that cloud so in that sense it's amazing. tremendous. >> rose: so we have the cloud, we have, as you mentioned, mobile, and the app revolution is connected to that. what sells there is that is happening and that silicon valley is trying to figure out that makes it an exciting moment there? >> so connected directly to the app revolution is something i'm excited about. this is almost a direct extension. there's an amazing number of things-- industries, fields, resources-- that are not utilized fully. every time you drive by a
forklift that's been sitting on a corner of a construction that's not been used for months if you're an entrepreneur you ask yourself "isn't there some place in the city that needs a forklift right now" so the idea of utilizing slack economic resources is just natural. it speaks very -- they're just par with an empty passenger street diving down, millions of these driving down america everyday. why can't they be occupied by someone sharing that ride? so the idea of pulling up the slack on the economic resources available to us is enabled by this central coordination, which is the cloud and the distributed sensor base which is the phone. so if i see the forklift i should have an app that tells me i know where this is and businesses spring up right left and center and anything from cab and construction equipment and
anything and everything. >> rose: finally there's this. there was a moment in which i think you and peter and gary kasparov were going to write about about -- what was going to be the theme of the book? >> the theme of the book was going to be that innovation has slowed down significantly since the mid-'70s in this country. >> rose: and that's true? that's a fact? >> >> i think it has. i think that -- since that book was conceived we found that -- peter, gary and i -- have fundamentally differing views on where the trends are going and all three of just gone our separate ways as authors but not as friends. >> rose: you're all still very close friends? >> we are, absolutely.
i spoke with each in the last week. but at this point we're not writing that book together and gary's working on a book, peter's working on a book and i'm busy building companies. but i think my take on it-- and i don't want to speak for t other two-- we have slowed down and there was a moment where i was really concerned with the state of silicon valley and broader technological innovation which is probably the area i'm qualified to speak about in the first place, i didn't see ambitious enough things: there are many things going on but many were not particularly ambitious. they weren't about going to mars. among other people, our very own elon decided to go to mars. that puts a dent in my theory and i looked more and more and more and, my god, these -- this data revolution alone is a big idea and there's a lot of big ideas being developed and with every passing month i became more and more convinced that my
place was not in the peanut gallery critiqued lack of innovation. i saw a lot happening and when i felt that there was still not enough to just get in there and do it myself so that's why i stopped writing the book and started writing -- >> rose: but you decided that innovation had not -- the path to innovate -- >> i think i'm a lot more optimistic. >> rose: is peter still pessimistic about it when he looks at certain industrys? >> >> i think we're both critical people by nature. i think he's certainly more opt mistic than when we began our brainstorms about the book and the book is hopefully going to come out primarily on gary's effort to this point which is a great overview of what happened but today is vector is towards innovation. i think more and more people are looking at the world saying the
opportunities are amazing, we would be foolish not to capitalize on everything that's around us. we should do more, go faster. i'm certainly very excited about the world i live in now. >> rose: so am i, that's why i wanted you here. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> rose: great to have you on the program. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org